Care to join me?
I hardly know how to offer a few thoughts about the book I just finished, Jeannette Walls’s memoir The Glass Castle; in fact, I hesitate recommending it to sensitive readers due to some sexual situations and the father’s creatively vile language, not to mention the peculiar neglect and abuse. It’s not an easy read in that regard. But the story reads like a fast-paced novel in a restrained show-don’t-tell style. Assuming the details are accurate—as accurate as memory-based projects can be—The Glass Castle left me breathless, horrified, furious, and astonished.As I described a few memorable scenes to a friend (this New York Times review reveals quite a bit), she said, “My memoir would be so boring: ‘And then I entered middle school. I turned in my homework on time and played in the school band. And my parents were really nice.'” But I insisted we all have a story. That same friend adopted two kids from Ethiopia a few years ago. I’ll bet she could write a pretty interesting memoir contrasting her stable middle-class childhood with these years of parenting two African kids in a Midwestern American suburb.After finishing The Glass Castle, I didn’t think another memoir needed to be written. Ever. But a few days have passed since closing the book and returning it to the library, and already I no longer think that’s true. I think our stories need to be told—maybe not as published memoirs, but in some way. When we find the themes and narrative of our own life stories—when we share those stories with each other—we have a chance to grow in understanding, appreciation and compassion. Reading, we live alongside others, taking in and processing their pain and joy, and we are richer for it.Now that I’ve made all those bold statements, however, I realize that I still hesitate writing my own. Maybe I’m talking myself into it. I toy with it now and then, but maybe I really will. Maybe, someday.
I continue to think about what motivates us. As I discussed it with a friend this week, we wondered how duty fits into the intrinsic/extrinsic model. Is duty something we do to please others or feel a sense of pride, knowing we have done “the right thing” according to our society or a subculture within that society? If so, does that make it sort of an intrinsic/extrinsic hybrid?Adding to the conversation, another friend reminded me that Christians have a motivation that runs deep as the Holy Spirit works in us to teach us to obey, pointing us to Christ’s example:Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothingby taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himselfby becoming obedient to death —even death on a cross! (Phil 2: 6-8)Jesus, the obedient servant, is our model, our Teacher, our Lord. But it’s not up to us, not entirely, because we have the gift of His Holy Spirit, who prods, inspires and motivates us to serve.
Our family biked together the other day. The path was long, uphill much of the time. One person sulked much of the way, but most of us accepted the challenge and enjoyed the scenery.Stopping only rarely, I was stuck taking photos in motion—left hand on the handlebar, right hand clicking away—capturing a series of blurry, not-quite-level snapshots.
Teens need more sleep than they think they do.
Despite my enthusiastic call to tell our stories, I have no memoir in the works.
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All images by Ann Kroeker. All rights reserved. You may “pin” in a way that links back to this post.